If I am Attentive, There is no Building of Images

=== JKrishnamurti.org Daily Quote ===

How can one be free of the images that one has? First of all, I must find out how these images come into being, what is the mechanism that creates them.

You can see that at the moment of actual relationship, that is, when you are talking, when there are arguments, when there are insults and brutality, if you are not completely attentive at that moment, then the mechanism of building an image starts.

That is, when the mind is not completely attentive at the moment of action, then the mechanism of building images is set in motion. When you say something to me which I do not like—or which I like—if at that moment I am not completely attentive, then the mechanism starts.

If I am attentive, aware, then there is no building of images.

The Awakening of Intelligence, p 337

=== Thoughts ===

To put it very simply:

We begin building images when we interpret our surroundings, in terms of our previous experience.

To dig a little deeper:

Image building occurs at the point of our encounter with something that we do not pay complete and total attention to. We build an image about something when we perceive it with divided attention. Be it another person, idea, or even natural scenery, if we do anything more than to take it in with our eyes, ears, noses, mouths, hands, etc., then we begin to build an image.

If we are incapable of perceiving it without evaluating it, without comparing it, and without measuring it, then we begin to build an image. And when we build an image about it, we are evaluating our perception of it, rather than perceiving or experiencing the thing itself. Typically, our evaluation takes place in terms of like or dislike, attraction or repulsion, intrigue or disgust, or comparison to some similar thing which we’ve already encountered (and created an image about).

For most of us, everything we meet is treated in this way. For most of us, we evaluate everything we meet because we do not meet anything with complete attention. When we encounter something, we are busy thinking about something else, and an occupied (or divided) mind is obviously quite incapable of perceiving wholly, totally, or with complete attention.

Our distracted mind becomes incapable of simply watching the situation in front of our eyes, listening to the sounds being delivered to our ears, or tasting the food we’re eating, because we’re busy thinking about completely different things. And even worse, most of us are so used to behaving in this way- to classifying, categorizing, and evaluating everything that we come into contact with- that we have become literally incapable of experiencing anything new!

Everything we meet is therefore evaluated, translated, and judged in terms of what we’ve already experienced. Everything we meet is compared to the most similar thing that we’ve previously encountered. Therefore, everything we meet is conceptualized in terms of it’s relationship to that incredibly complicated mental structure- that complex image- which we have already formed about our world, about ourselves, and about reality.

Thus, whatever we encounter is judged in terms of that hierarchy, according to our preconceived mental structures, and placed in it’s proper spot. It is classified, conceptualized, and categorized within that intricate structure that we carry around with us at all times, and use to meet each new experience. And most of us feel that we must perform this behavior (whether consciously or subconsciously) if we are to understand the things we meet. But in reality, our reduction of things to images negates the possibility for understanding anything at all!

And, lacking that understanding of the things that we meet, we miss out on the real beauty of the flower, the tree, or the light on the water. Instead we evaluate it’s beauty in terms of our ideas (our images) about “beauty”, about what it means to “beautiful”. And as they say- “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”- but that is only the case while the beholder remains attached to his image of beauty.

Let’s use an example to illustrate this idea; one that Krishnamurti himself has discussed before.

When we walk past the rose, we’re likely to say to ourselves something like: There is the “rose”. I have been expecting it, and now it has come. It is absolutely beautiful, more beautiful than any other “rose” I’ve ever seen. [Or, alternatively, It is not as beautiful as the rose I saw yesterday, It is hideous, or even It is pretty, but not that pretty.]

It does not matter whether this particular rose is the best or the worst “rose” that we have ever encountered. The point is that as long as we remain attached to measuring it in terms of it’s relative beauty compared to other “roses” (to our image about what it means to be a rose), we are incapable of perceiving this instance of the rose as it actually exists. We perceive it as the “rose”, rather than the rose because we are chained to our image of the “rose” as it should exist.

Instead of perceiving this rose as completely new (which it is), since it is quite obviously entirely different from all the “roses” which we’ve previously encountered, we classify it, we measure it, we judge it, we interpret it, and we evaluate it. We create an image about it- the image of the “rose”.

And thus, we never experience the rose. We only meet our image of the “rose”.

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One Response to If I am Attentive, There is no Building of Images

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